The Past and The Present – See Part 1 OR click here
So negotiations over a long-term solution continue, and over the past week or so, reports circling the Sixties suggested an ‘Oil-Sheikh’ was in for them. Not quite a Sheikh, but Hasan Abdullah Ismaik himself has now come out and outlined his plans for the club. The 34 year-old businessman from Jordan, who had made his fortune primarily from the Middle East real estate boom of 2006/7, would be the first Arab investor in the Bundesliga and has said that the ‘probability of investment is very high.’
Whilst admitting he’s not a billionaire, he’s eager to prove he’s a ‘passionate football fan’ and the wealthy Jordanian will be at the Allianz on Saturday to watch 1860’s home game against Cottbus. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), a delegation representing Ismaik have arrived in Munich to examine the books and take a look around. Should everything be found to be in order, Ismaik is confident that inside three weeks ‘everything will be perfect.’
In outlining his plan for TSV, Ismaik will seek to purchase 49% of shares (no higher due to DFL’s ‘50+1’ rule) at a cost of around €13m, whilst promising further investment of between €10-20m by 2014 should the club reach the Bundesliga. He has been careful not to inflate fan’s expectations in saying ‘we want to be realistic and not set unattainable goals… We want the fans to be proud of the club.’
Ismaik has claimed to understand the ethos of the club, in particular the need for self-identity of the fans and the good progress of the club’s youth policy. On the theme of self-identity, he has stated that should 1860 re-establish itself as a Bundesliga club once again, he will consider the supporter’s yearn for their own stadium, but has admitted that at the moment the topic is not relevant. President Schneider himself cooled fan enthusiasm on this by reiterating that they have a contract with Bayern at the Allianz until 2025.
Fans of 1860 are extremely proud of their youth system, and Ismaik’s comments will provide some sort of relief, as the sale of Kevin Volland to Hoffenheim is not an isolated case of a hot prospect being moved on. With the precarious nature of die Löwen’s finances, supporters of TSV have winced in despair as one talent followed another out of the door:
In January 2009, Timo Gebhart left for Stuttgart and within months twin brothers Sven and Lars Bender (Dortmund and Leverkusen respectively) and defender Fabian Johnson (Wolfsburg) had also moved on. Last summer, Togo-born striker Peniel Mlapa joined Hoffenheim and left-back José Holebas moved to Greek club, Olympiacos. The talent exodus came to an end (if only for now) when 18 year-old midfielder Moritz Leitner was sold to Borussia Dortmund before being immediately loaned back to promotion-chasing local-rivals Augsburg.
Should the Ismaik deal fall through, 1860 will have to find another resolution – most probably through the banks and Bayern, who have already deferred payments (including a €2.1m operating costs bill) from their tenants not for personal gain. Bayern president Uli Hoeneß has said he’d welcome the potential investment, but the fans aren’t so sure.
On Saturday against Borussia M’Gladbach, Bayern’s fans took centre stage. Along with the now customary ‘Koan Neuer’ signs, huge banners targeting 1860 and Hoeneß were unveiled. One even called Uli a ‘liar’ amongst other things. They appear to have lost patience with the club bailing out 1860 and don’t believe the club have been honest with them with regards to their financial support of the Blues. The actions of the fans have been condemned by club officials, including Franz Beckbenbauer.
With Arminia Bielefeld the latest to announce financial trouble (with debts rumoured to be around €27m), the stringent regulations of the DFL don’t appear to be working in the 2.Bundesliga. Should Ismaik’s investment be ratified, it could spark a new era in German football with completely uncertain consequences.